Physicians should assume that children with gonorrhea have acquired it by sexual contact and that most such contacts are abusive. Children old enough to talk will often reveal the nature of the sexual contact if interviewed skillfully and sensitively in privacy. Such interviews are an essential part of the evaluation of children with gonorrhea and should be conducted as soon as possible after the diagnosis is made, and when it is suspected on clinical grounds prior to bacteriologic confirmation. Sexual abuse of children is common and is usually perpetrated by a relative or a caretaker of the child. It is usually accomplished secretly and without force, and it commonly continues for months or years with very serious psychological consequences for the victim. Often the child has complained to a parent and has not been believed. The occurrence of symptomatic gonorrhea and the resulting contact may provide a rare opportunity for intervention. The diagnosis of gonorrhea in a prepubertal child will dictate reports to both protective agencies and the public health department. It should not be assumed that the agencies will communicate with each other. In areas where sexual abuse treatment programs exist, consultants associated with them may be very helpful.
- Copyright © 1983 by the American Academy of Pediatrics